Formula 1: Vettel holds off Bottas charge to win in Bahrain

Photo: Getty Images
2 Comments

Differing tire strategies for Scuderia Ferrari and Mercedes AMG Petronas produced a thrilling finish to Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

Pole sitter, and leader for most of the race, Sebastian Vettel started the race on super soft Pirelli tires before switching to the softs on a Lap 18 pit stop. Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas started on the super softs as well, but the team put Bottas on medium compound Pirellis during their stop on lap 21.

Mercedes started Hamilton on soft tires, and he worked his way from ninth on the grid up to fourth in the first stint, which featured a thrilling three-wide pass into Turn 1, in which he passed Nico Hulkenberg, Sergio Perez, and Fernando Alonso in one move.

Hamilton pitted on Lap 26, the team also putting him on mediums.

The differing tire strategies set up a showdown in the second half of the race, with Ferrari looking at a two-stop strategy, while Mercedes went with one stop. However, Ferrari changed their strategy following a disastrous pit stop for Kimi Raikkonen on Lap 36, in which he left early and clipped one of the crew members with the left-rear tire.

The left-rear had also been left loose on Raikkonen’s SF71H, forcing him to come to an immediate stop on the pit lane, while medical personnel tended to the injured crew member.

In terms of race strategy, Ferrari opted to call an audible to keep Vettel out the rest of the way, hoping that their soft tires would last and that Bottas and Hamilton would not catch him.

While Hamilton was a little too far back in third to catch the front two, Bottas put on a charge in the final ten laps to close right on the back of Vettel, getting within DRS range with two laps remaining.

However, despite being on better tires – Vettel’s softs had clearly gone passed their point of usefulness – Bottas could not find a way around Vettel, who did a superb job of holding Bottas at bay to take the win, his second in a row to start the 2018 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season, and on his 200th career start as well.

Bottas and Hamilton ended up second and third to complete the podium.

Behind the top three, Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly put in the best performance of his young F1 career, starting fifth and running a strong and clean race the entire way to finish an outstanding fourth, the team’s best result since Carlos Sainz Jr. finished fourth at last year’s Singapore Grand Prix.

The result earned Gasly “Driver of the Day” and set off a frantic and enthusiastic celebration for the Toro Rosso team.

Haas F1 Team’s Kevin Magnussen finished a stout fifth, rebounding from the team’s disappointment from the Australian Grand Prix, followed by Renault Sport F1 Team’s Nico Hulkenberg in sixth. The McLaren F1 duo of Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne finished seventh and eighth, putting both cars in the points for the second race in a row.

Alfa Romeo Sauber F1’s Marcus Ericsson used a one-stop strategy to finish a brilliant ninth, scoring the team’s first points of 2018, while Sahara Force India’s Esteban Ocon finished 10th, also scoring the first points of 2018 for his team.

Red Bull Racing’s efforts, however, came to a disastrous halt in the early laps. Max Verstappen suffered a left-rear puncture following contact with Hamilton on Lap 2 after trying an inside pass in Turn 1 – the right-front of Hamilton’s W09 having touched the left-rear of Verstappen’s RB14 on corner exit as they battled for tenth.

Ahead of them, Daniel Ricciardo, who ran in fourth at the end of Lap 1, came to a halt just after the Verstappen contact, his RB14 suffering a sudden loss of all power, briefly forcing a Virtual Safety Car so his chassis could be removed from the circuit.

Verstappen, meanwhile, was forced to retire after incurring too much damage from his puncture.

The double DNF drops Red Bull behind McLaren to fourth in the constructor’s championship, with two races down in 2018.

Results are below. Formula 1 heads to the Shanghai International Circuit for the Chinese Grand Prix next week.

Follow@KyleMLavigne

Cadillac confirms WEC driver lineup with Chip Ganassi Racing that will race Le Mans in 2023

Cadillac Ganassi Le Mans
Cadillac Racing
0 Comments

Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing announced their driver lineup for a 2023 entry in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the sports car series that includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Cadillac V-LMDh entry will be driven by Earl Bamber and Alex Lynn, who were teamed on the No. 02 Cadillac that competed in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi class this season and won the Twelve Hours of Sebring. The third driver will be Richard Westbrook, who will return to Ganassi after helping the team to a GT class win at Le Mans in 2018.

The team also will compete in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the rebranded Grand Touring Prototype premier category, which is designed for crossover between the top prototypes in IMSA and WEC. Ganassi will field a second entry at Daytona with its No. 01 Cadillac that will compete full time in IMSA with Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande.

A Ganassi spokesman said the team hopes to run its second entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans but only its WEC team is confirmed (an AOC invitation would be required for the IMSA team). The team also is exploring options but currently plans to have the WEC’s team base of operations in Indianapolis.

Ganassi is the first American-based prototype team to confirm its entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans. It’s expected that Team Penske, which raced this year’s Le Mans with a full-time WEC entry in LMP2, also will race Le Mans with Porsche’s new LMDh car that is set for IMSA, but the manufacturer has yet to confirm its driver and team lineup.

Next year will mark the return of Cadillac to Le Mans for the first time since 2002.

Before joining Ganassi last year, Lynn made 28 WEC starts since 2016, winning the LMGTE Pro class at Le Mans in 2020.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to continue with Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing,” Lynn said in a release. “It’s a huge honor to drive for Chip in any capacity but certainly on a full factory sports car program, it’s seriously cool. Cadillac has so much heritage as a luxury North American sports car brand, so to be able to represent them is a huge privilege. I’ve had a lot of fun in my first year doing it and to continue that onto the World Endurance Championship stage is fantastic.

“For me, returning to WEC is sort of what I’ve always known and it’s a bit like going into my wheelhouse. This year in IMSA was a bit different with getting to know all-new circuits and a new style of racing so 2023 will be filled with a bit more of what I’m used to with more of a European focus. I think what’s significant about WEC is without a doubt Le Mans. As a sports car race, Le Mans is the crown jewel and everything that we want to win. To be able to take Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac back to Le Mans to fight for overall honors is a huge honor and that’s something that I’m going to work tirelessly to make sure we achieve.”

Bamber won the Le Mans overall in 2015 and ’17 with Porsche teams and also was a 2019 GTLM champion in IMSA.

“I am really happy to continue at Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac,” Bamber said in a release. “I’ve loved my first season in DPi and now to continue over into the LMDh era and WEC is super exciting. Looking forward to fighting for a world championship and another Le Mans victory.

“The World Endurance Championships gives us the opportunity to race at the world’s biggest race, which is Le Mans, the crown jewel of sports car racing. I’ve been lucky enough to win it before and it’s obviously a huge goal for Cadillac and everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing. To have that goal in sight is really exciting. It’s been great to have Alex as a teammate in 2022. We’ve been able to learn and grow together in the DPi, and we have a really good partnership going into WEC. We know each other really well and believe adding Richard will be a seamless transition.”

Said Westbrook: “After four really good years at Chip Ganassi Racing, I’ve got so many friends there and I’ve always dreamt to come back one day. It just worked so well between 2016 and 2019, and I’m delighted we found a route to come together again. I can’t wait, it’s an exciting era in sports car racing right now.

“I feel like I know Alex and Earl really well. I did Le Mans with Alex in 2020 and I’ve known him for years. It feels like I’m going back with an ex-teammate and exactly the same with Earl. Although I’ve never shared a car with Earl, we’ve always done the same sort of racing be it in WEC or in IMSA. We’ve had lots of battles, including this year in our dueling Cadillacs. We’ve always gotten along quite well, and I can say we’re going to have a great year together.”

The seven-race WEC season, which also includes a stop at Spa, will begin March 17 with the 1,000 Miles of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway in Florida.